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Oct. 27, 2005, 3:38PM

Zorro slices a new hunk of cheese

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By AMY BIANCOLLI
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Whish, whoosh, wheesh — so says the not-so-gay blade as it slices a "Z" on the chest of an oily scoundrel. "The devil will know who sent you!" El Zorro hisses, his overheated scowl boring into the fiend before him.

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Muy románticos strings surge on the soundtrack. Zorro's sternum heaves. Elsewhere, his wife's sternum heaves. The audience's collective sternum heaves. So it goes for 130 heave-a-licious minutes in The Legend of Zorro, a rousingly silly sequel to 1998's rousingly silly Mask of Zorro, which starred Anthony Hopkins as old Zorro, Catherine Zeta-Jones as old Zorro's daughter, Elena, and Antonio Banderas as old Zorro's young apprentice, Alejandro de la Vega.

That film and this one were directed by Martin Campbell, who knows not to mess too much with the genre's delicate balance of class-conscious moralizing and glam 19th-century comic swordplay. All the elements but Hopkins remain: Banderas, Zeta-Jones, Tornado the horse, Zorro's twinkie little mask. No one ever recognizes him; in The Legend of Zorro, even his son (impish Adrian Alonso) doesn't.

Sony Pictures
Zorro's (Antonio Banderas) true identity remains safely hidden, even from family members, in The Legend of Zorro.

When we last left Don Alejandro back in 1840, he had hooked up with Elena and inherited both the stylin' black cape and subterranean superlair of Zorro-père. It is now 10 years later, and Mrs. Zorro is fuming because Mr. Zorro won't retire: California, a newly minted state, no longer needs a vigilante named the Fox to protect peasants from oppression, or so she argues. The Fox himself feels otherwise. This age-old marital spat over home and work leads to an age-old marital breakup, and Alejandro stalks off with his trusty Tornado. After a forcible run-in with two mysterious dweebs, Elena files for divorce.

Soon after, Alejandro learns that Elena has gotten cozy with one Count Armand (Rufus Sewell, who looks dipped in paraffin). This prompts yet more marital bickering, most of it intensely annoying, and if you didn't believe some wicked fight scenes loomed on the horizon, you might soon flee, black cape flapping, into the night.

But patience is rewarded with fisticuffs and sword fights galore, a few of them clearly inspired by Douglas Fairbanks' spring-loaded athleticism in the original, silent (and amazing: rent it) Mark of Zorro. Fairbanks required no stunt doubles. The more earthbound Banderas does, but he's still a better Zorro than Tyrone Power, who was equal parts precious and wooden, like a knickknack.

Banderas is no knickknacky Zorro. The only thing wooden about him is the scenery he bites off and spits in every scene, a process too violent to describe as "acting." The other wooden item of his acquaintance is the set of false teeth belonging to one of his unsightlier nemeses (Nick Chinlund), who sports a cruciform facial scar and might, just might, be related to a secret Christian brotherhood that ... wait, is this The Da Vinci Code?

No — too many loud explosions. The aural and visual overkill isn't unusual for an action flick, but swashbuckling Zorro doesn't need it. He's always been more cat burglar than munitions expert, a slinky man in black who scales walls, sneaks up on villains, engages them with a clang of steel and escapes in a thunder of hooves.

Campbell's film (and Phil Meheux's flushed, neo-Romantic photography) has moments that capture this sensuality and stealth, but it's noisier and longer than it should be. Zorro was never one to overstay his welcome. Wheesh-whoosh-whish.


Showtimes:

AMC Deerbrook 24
Special Engagement 12:35 PM, 1:30, 3:45, 4:40, 7:00, 7:35, 10:00, 10:35 PM
20131 Highway 59 North Suite 8000
Humble, TX 77338


AMC First Colony 24
Special Engagement 12:05 PM, 1:35, 3:05, 4:35, 6:30, 7:35, 9:30, 10:35 PM
3301 Town Centre Blvd. South
Sugar Land, TX 77479


AMC Gulf Pointe 30
Special Engagement 11:05 AM, 12:15, 1:15, 2:05, 3:15, 4:15, 5:10, 6:20, 7:15, 8:15, 9:10, 10:15, 11:15, 12:00 AM, 12:55 AM
11801 E. So. Sam Houston Pkwy
Houston, TX 77089


AMC Katy Mills 20
Special Engagement 1:00 PM, 2:10, 3:40, 5:00, 6:25, 7:50, 9:15, 10:40 PM
5000 Katy Mills Circle, #131
Katy, TX 77494


AMC Meyer Park 16
Special Engagement 5:00 PM, 5:55, 7:40, 8:30, 10:20 PM
4730 W. Belfort
Houston, TX 77035


AMC Studio 30
Special Engagement 12:40 PM, 1:25, 2:10, 3:30, 4:20, 5:05, 6:30, 7:15, 8:10, 9:35, 10:15, 11:15, 12:30 AM
2949 Dunvale
Houston, TX 77063


AMC Willowbrook 24
12:05 PM, 2:50, 5:35, 8:50 PM
17145 Tomball Parkway
Houston, TX 77064


Cinemark 18 - Webster
(12:45 PM), (1:15), (3:45), (4:15), 6:45, 7:15, 9:45, 10:15 PM
20915 Gulf Fwy
Webster, TX 77598


Cinemark Cinema 8
(2:45 PM), 7:05, 10:00 PM
5101 Avenue H
Rosenberg, TX 77471


Cinemark Hollywood Movies 20
(9:55 AM), (10:10), (10:30), (12:50), (1:10), (1:30), (3:50), (4:10), (4:30), 6:50, 7:10, 7:30, 9:50, 10:10, 10:30 PM
2101 E Beltway 8 at Pasadena Blvd
Pasadena, TX 77503


Cinemark Katy TX
(12:30 PM), (1:00), (1:30), (3:30), (4:00), (4:30), 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30 PM
1030 West Grand Parkway North
Katy, TX 77449


Cinemark Movies 12 - Texas City
(11:45 AM), (2:30), (5:15), 8:00, 10:45 PM
10000 Emmett F Lowry Expressway
Texas City, TX 77591


Cinemark Tinseltown USA - Jacinto City
(1:20 PM), (1:30), (1:50), (4:10), (4:20), (4:45), 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 9:55, 10:15, 10:35 PM
11450 East Freeway
Jacinto City, TX 77029


Cinemark Tinseltown USA 15
(12:55 PM), (1:00), (3:50), (4:15), 7:15, 7:40, 10:35, 10:45 PM
3855 Interstate 10 South
Beaumont, TX 77705


Cinemark Tinseltown USA 290
(12:00 PM), (1:15), (3:15), (4:15), 7:00, 7:30, 10:15, 10:35 PM
12920 Northwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77040


Cinemark Tinseltown USA Westchase
(12:30 PM), (1:00), (1:30), (3:30), (4:00), (4:30), 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30 PM
3600 W Sam Houston Pkwy South
Houston, TX 77042


Cinemark Tinseltown at Woodlands
(12:00 PM), (12:40), (1:20), (3:40), (4:00), (4:35), 6:45, 7:15, 7:40, 10:10, 10:20, 10:45 PM
1600 Lake Robbins Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77380


Edwards Grand Palace Stadium 24
(12:45 PM), (1:20), (3:50), (4:25), 7:00, 7:30, 10:05, 10:35 PM
3839 Weslayan Street
Houston, TX 77027


Edwards Houston Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX
(12:00 PM), (1:15), (3:00), (4:15), 6:00, 7:15, 9:00, 10:15 PM
7620 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77024


LCE Easton Commons 8
(4:00 PM), 7:00, 10:00 PM
8580 Highway 6 N
Houston, TX 77095


LCE Fountains Theatre
(12:30 PM), (1:30), (2:30), (3:30), (4:30), (5:30), 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 PM
11225 Fountain Lake Drive
Stafford, TX 77477


LCE Spring 10
(4:20 PM), 7:10, 10:00 PM
20115 Holzwarth Road
Spring, TX 77388


Magic Johnson Theatre - Houston
(12:45 PM), (1:30), (3:30), (4:20), 6:30, 7:15, 9:20, 10:00 PM
113 Northline Mall
Houston, TX 77022


Pine Hollow Cinema 6
(11:00 AM), (1:45), (4:20), 7:15, 9:45 PM
2000 I-45 North
Conroe, TX 77305


Premiere Alvin 5
4:10 PM, 6:45, 9:25 PM
324 East House Street
Alvin, TX 77511


Premiere Cinema 11
(12:20 PM), (2:20), (3:20), (5:20), 6:20, 8:20, 9:20 PM
1518 San Jacinto Mall
Baytown, TX 77521


Premiere Galveston
(12:45 PM), (1:30), (3:35), (4:15), 6:30, 7:05, 9:20, 9:50 PM
8902 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77554


Premiere Pearland Westside Cinema 6
(11:15 AM), (1:50), (4:25), 7:00, 9:35 PM
5050 West Broadway, Suite 10
Pearland, TX 77581


Premiere Tomball Cinema 6
(3:45 PM), 6:30, 9:15 PM
28497 Tomball Parkway
Tomball, TX 77375


Starplex Cinema 10
(1:05 PM), (4:05), 7:05, 9:50 PM
104 East Hwy 332
Lake Jackson, TX 77566


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 Movie Details

The Legend of Zorro

Movie Type
Action/Adventure, Drama

MPAA Rating
PG
for sequences of violence/peril and action, language and a couple of suggestive moments

Running Time
130 minutes

Directed By
Martin Campbell

Cast
Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nick Chinlund, Rufus Sewell

Written By
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

Produced By
Laurie MacDonald, Steven Spielberg, Walter F Parkes

Released
Oct 28, 2005
(Nationwide)

Distributed By
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Official Web Site